Almanack Contributor Mike Lynch

Mike Lynch

Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly news magazine with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues.

Mike’s favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing. In 2011, he paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine.

From 2007 until 2014, Mike worked as an outdoors writer and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake.

Mike welcomes story ideas and can be reached at mike@adirondackexplorer.org.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Alewives Pose Challenge To Champlain Salmon Restoration

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Zach Eisenhauer holds an 11-pound salmon that he trapped on the Boquet River on Oct. 6 during a fish surveyFor years, biologists have been working to improve conditions for the native fish in Lake Champlain. Among other things, they have removed old dams to help spawning salmon migrate up rivers and have reduced the population of sea lampreys that prey on salmon and lake trout.

Now scientists are trying to fully understand how salmon are impacted by alewives, an invasive species that has become a main source of food for salmon, a keystone predator that eats smaller fish.

Alewives were first discovered in Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Bay, in Vermont, in 2003. Since then, they have grown in number and replaced native rainbow smelt as the main forage fish for predators in the lake, and they are likely here to stay. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Brown Trout Found In Heritage Brook Trout Pond

troutWhile fishing in Black Pond on a rainy mid-April day, Jake Kuryla caught a 13-inch brown trout. The fish surprised the Paul Smith’s College fisheries major because Black Pond is a specially designated brook trout water.

Located on Paul Smith’s College property in Paul Smiths, Black Pond is used to raise Windfall strain brook trout for stocking purposes.  Every fall, DEC live trap brook trout in the pond to get eggs from the females and milt (semen) from the males. The DEC then uses the fertilized eggs to raise young trout that are stocked in other ponds. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Younger Adirondackers Find A Place To Call Home

Tyler Socash on Wright PeakIn 2015, Old Forge native Tyler Socash decided to take the money he had been saving for a car and spend it on something more experiential: three long-distance hiking trips.

Starting in August, he ended up hiking seven thousand miles as he finished the Pacific Crest Trail, Te-araroa (Long Pathway) in New Zealand, and the Appalachian Trail. After the yearlong trip, the thirty-year-old came home to the Adirondacks, where he returned to a former employer, the Adirondack Mountain Club, as a wilderness trip leader. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Rules For Adirondack Fishing Going Into Effect

Fly Fishing on the Ausable River - photo by John WarrenNew fishing regulations go into effect on April 1, the start of the trout season statewide.

Numerous changes will impact Adirondack waters and anglers.

The new regulations include the elimination of special brook trout regulations at Whey Pond in the Saranac Lake Wild Forest. The pond neighbors the Rollins Pond and Fish Creek camping areas. Previous regulations had required anglers to release brook trout under 12 inches and to only allow them to keep three during an outing. Anglers were also required to use artificial lures.

The restrictive regulations were in place to protect brood stock for the Windfall strain of heritage brook trout. Whey Pond had been reclaimed in 1989 for the purpose of eliminating invasive fish, but two invasive fish species living in the pond have hurt the brook trout population there. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Newly Restored Fire Tower on St. Regis Mountain

As we neared the summit of St. Regis Mountain this past January, the conditions changed dramatically. Tree limbs — caked in snow and ice — hung down over the trail, and as we walked crouched through the tangle of branches, snow cascaded upon us.

“Most of the time I go past that rock outcropping, I feel like I’m home free,” said Doug Fitzgerald, co-chairman of Friends of St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower. “Not today.”

The conditions slowed our travel, but the scenic beauty more than compensated for any inconvenience. The coating of ice and snow on the trees gave them a surreal quality as they glimmered in the afternoon light sneaking through the clouds. We soon emerged from the snow-covered woods onto an open expanse of rock covered by a layer of light snow. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Rare Great Gray Owl Draws Birders to Keene

Manhattan resident Kathy Drake has seen nearly 600 different bird species in her life and regularly travels to observe them. So when she recently found out there was a great gray owl in Keene, she decided to drive up to the Adirondacks to see it. After all, it was a lot closer to home than Minnesota, where she spent four days last year unsuccessfully looking for the bird.

“You don’t have any idea how magical this is,” Drake said. “It really is.”

Drake said she arrived in Keene with her friends in the early afternoon on Wednesday and planned to spend the night in Upper Jay before heading back to New York City the next day. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Research On Native Adirondack Fish Species Continues

Two years ago a research team from Paul Smith’s College published a paper about the possibility that yellow perch could be native to the Adirondacks, after finding its DNA in sediment from Lower St. Regis Lake that dates back more than 2,000 years ago.

Now similar sediment core sampling is being done on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid. In late February Paul Smith’s College students under the tutelage of Paul Smith’s College Professor Curt Stager – who led the original study – teamed up with Ausable River Association Science and Stewardship Director Brendan Wiltse to take sediment samples that will be analyzed for the presence of three fish species: yellow perch, rainbow trout, and lake trout. The group also plans to extract additional samples in the future. The DNA testing will be done by the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Millennials Go Digital in the Adirondack Park

millennials in the adirondacksGrowing up in Keene Valley, Sophie McClelland often sought solitude on Indian Head, a rocky cliff with a gorgeous view of Lower Ausable Lake in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve.

Now twenty-seven, she noticed this summer that more people were visiting the lookout. One morning she arrived at sunrise to find a half-dozen people already there. Over Columbus Day weekend, she counted more than twenty-five hikers on the summit. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 26, 2016

Black Bears Seldom Attack People

black bearDespite all of the black-bear incidents this year, including many close encounters in the woods and in residential areas, there were no reported injuries to people.

Historically, few people have been injured by bears in the Adirondacks, although many have come extremely close to them. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Summer of 2016 Was Bad News For Bears

black bear Jean Belanger was starting a climb at the Beer Walls in Chapel Pond Canyon when his girlfriend, Isabel Rodriguez, yelled up to him to come down right away. “That usually means I have a spider on my back,” Belanger said.

But there was no spider this time. Instead Rodriguez had spotted an approaching mother bear and its cub. After quickly descending, Belanger walked a short distance away from the bears and started yelling and clapping. “They didn’t make any aggressive moves toward me at all,” he said. “It was really the packs they were walking toward.”

Bear experts recommend that people do what Belanger did when they encounter a black bear in the woods: make a lot of noise to scare the animal away. Black bears are generally fearful of humans, unless they have come to associate people with food. In these cases, the bears can become bold but will still usually run from people. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Beloved, Photogenic Keene Barn Comes Down

For amateur photographer Nick Palmieri, the structure known as the “Keene barn” was always a welcome sight as he arrived in the High Peaks region.

“I’ve always called it the gateway to the High Peaks,” said Palmieri, who lives in New Jersey and runs the Save the Keene New York Barn Facebook page. “From an artists’ point of view that barn just sits in the perfect spot, just to make the scene perfectly beautiful.” » Continue Reading.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Volunteer Searchers Play Key Role in Algonquin Search

missing-hikers

Volunteer searcher and well-known Lake Placid climber Don Mellor was hiking just above treeline on a frigid Algonquin Peak when he heard the faint sound of a man calling. Then he heard a woman’s yell.

That’s when he knew he had found them. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Alpine Plants on High Peaks Summits in Jeopardy

alpine floraThe growing number of hikers in the High Peaks in recent years has heightened concern for the fragile alpine vegetation found on many of the summits.

If the number continues to increase, summit stewards charged with educating hikers may find themselves overwhelmed, said Julia Goren, the Adirondack Mountain Club’s education director.

“I don’t think we’ve lost ground yet,” said Goren, who heads the summit-steward program. “But I do think it’s not hyperbolic that we’re kind of at a tipping point where there’s not much more we can take before there’s going to be some kind of loss. One summit steward can’t talk to six hundred people in a day and make sure that people are respecting every patch of alpine vegetation.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Hiker’s Role In Disturbing The Wild

scarlet tanagerA trail weaving its way through the woods to a summit takes up just a minuscule fraction of the wild lands it traverses, which may leave the impression that trails have little impact on wildlife. Research in recent years by the Wildlife Conservation Society suggests that is not the case.

“You’d be surprised by the ripples left by a day hiker’s ramble through the woods,” wrote Christopher Solomon in the New York Times in 2015. “In 2008 Sarah Reed, an associate conservation scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, and her colleagues found fivefold declines in detections of bobcats, coyotes and other midsize carnivores in protected areas in California that allowed quiet recreation activities like hiking, compared with protected areas that prohibited those activities.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Adirondack Hiking Trails Show Their Age

the-state-pays-the-adirondack-mountain-club-and-other-groups-to-maintain-trails When many of the High Peaks’ trails were cut more than a century ago, the work was done by guides and hired hands. Keene Valley’s Orson “Old Mountain” Phelps created the first trail up Mount Marcy in 1861; Verplanck Colvin’s survey workers cut routes up Algonquin and Dix in the late 1800s; and Henry Van Hoevenberg developed a trail system for the Adirondack Lodge (as it was then spelled).

The early trails opened up the High Peaks to more people and laid the groundwork for today’s trail system, but some of the original trails continue to cause maintenance problems. » Continue Reading.